Dec 04

Jacoby Ellsbury Signing Defines Mets Vs. Yankees; Time Running Out For Granderson

As if the New York Mets and their frustrated fan base needed another reminder of their status in town, they got a punch-in-the-gut this morning with the news Jacoby Ellsbury had agreed to a seven-year, $153-million contract with the Yankees.

Yes, the Yankees, the team that said they wanted to go below a $189 million payroll while Mets GM Sandy Alderson, despite saying he has the resources, isn’t likely to go over $90 million.

ELLSBURY: Would have been nice in Flushing.

ELLSBURY: Would have been nice in Flushing.

Alderson will say the Mets aren’t competing with the Yankees, and he’s right to a four-game, interleague degree, but he’s wrong everywhere else. There’s competition for the back pages, for free-agents, for attention from the on-the-fence New York fan, for TV ratings and time on the radio talk-shows.

Today, the callers will take a break from bashing the Nets and Knicks – and deservedly so – to hailing the Yankees, and yes, ripping the Mets for their inaction. Also, deservedly so.

It’s a great deal for the Yankees as they obtain a dynamic outfielder – which was Alderson’s prime objective this winter – that will more homers in Yankee Stadium hitting from the leadoff position, while at the same time, weakening their rival Red Sox.

This came after giving $85 million to catcher Brian McCann. And, they are hot after Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, which will entail a hefty posting fee to go along with a huge salary.

Then, there’s the matter of Robinson Cano.

Meanwhile, the Mets’ biggest splash this winter, if you don’t include Chris Young, is having dinner with Jay Z, Cano’s flamboyant agent.

That meeting garnered attention for one day, but these signings by the Yankees to go along with their courtship of Cano, have them in the headlines nearly every day this offseason.

The free-agent outfield market had four premium names: Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson. Ellsbury’s deal set the bar, meaning if history is an indicator, the prices for the others should increase.

This means if the Mets are serious about Granderson they had better act quickly because the meter is running. Who knows? It might already have clicked past Alderson’s price range.

The Mets weren’t going to overpay for Ellsbury or Choo, but they might have to for Granderson for nothing else, to save some face this winter.

But, Granderson would fit the Mets for several reasons:

* He would give them left-handed power. Yes, his numbers were elevated in Yankee Stadium, but of his 43 homers hit in 2012, 26 were at home and 17 on the road. Granderson hit 41 in 20111, with 21 at home and 20 on the road.

* He could play anywhere in the outfield, and has the speed to play center.

* All indications are he’s a good clubhouse presence, plus, he knows what it takes to play in New York.

While the Ellsbury signing screams the Yankees are back, it doesn’t mean the Mets have to limp away. There’s still time for them to do something, but it is running out.

Dec 03

Why Mets Did Not Non-Tender Ike Davis

If the New York Mets don’t want Ike Davis, why didn’t they just non-tender him? That way the unproductive first baseman with the looping swing and high propensity for striking out would be gone. Davis would just them be another failure in Mets lore.

DAVIS: Mets playing waiting game, (Getty)

DAVIS: Mets playing waiting game, (Getty)

That’s the conventional wisdom, but there’s more to it under the surface. There always is.

As long as Davis remains on the Mets’ 40-man roster, he’s an asset capable of either producing on the field when the season starts, or as a trade piece.

Obviously, the Mets would like to find a trading partner, but might find they won’t be getting much in return. With a flood of free agents on the market, most teams would rather attempt that route first because all they would spend is money.

The smarter teams are waiting for the Mets to dump him during spring training, that way they could get Davis without having to surrender talent in return. Subsequently, the Mets are holding on to Davis to see if there’s a team that loses a first baseman to injury during spring training and finds itself in a bind.

If there’s no such opportunity, there’s always waiting for the July 31 trade deadline. That’s the Mets’ best hope of getting quality in return.

In addition, if the Mets take Davis to spring training, he might win the job if Lucas Duda doesn’t perform. There’s no given with Duda, so that has to be in the back of Sandy Alderson’s mind.

 

Dec 03

What Non-Tendered Mets Could Be Worth Another Look

The New York Mets sent five players to the free-agent market when they non-tendered Jeremy Hefner, Justin Turner, Scott Atchison, Jordany Valdespin and Omar Quintanilla.

HEFNER: Is he worth another look?

HEFNER: Is he worth another look?

None of the decisions should be considered surprising, and to get where they want to be they would need to do get better than what they had.

The question is, what to do until then? Here’s my take on the five let go:

JEREMY HEFNER: Hefner was clearly a dollar move as he wouldn’t be available any way because he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery. Nonetheless, they could re-sign him at a lower rate and not have him on the 40-man roster.

Hefner proved to be a valuable spot-starter, but would not be considered any higher than a fifth starter.

Working against Hefner, is by the time he was cleared to return, the Mets’ rotation would have Matt Harvey back, plus the expected promotions of Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom.

JUSTIN TURNER: Was a valuable role player off the bench, but not somebody who could play for any length of time without his weaknesses being exposed.

The Mets could groom Wilmer Flores to replace him, but Turner can play shortstop so it would be a limited move.

Flores, however, could master the shaving cream pie to the face shtick Turner popularized.

JORDANY VALDESPIN: No way.

SCOTT ATCHISON:  He gave the Mets 47.1 innings last season out of the pen. The Mets need to replace those innings and could do it for the same $700,000 Atchison made, but for a younger arm.

OMAR QUINTANILLA: He played in 95 games when Ruben Tejada went down, and was more than capable defensively, but hit only .222 with a .306 on-base percentage.

Those two numbers have the Mets believing he’s not a fulltime answer at shortstop.

The position remains a hole, and it looks as if they could go with Tejada again. Even so, they don’t have a back-up.

COMING UP: Why the Mets did not non-tender Ike Davis.

Dec 03

Are The Mets And Curtis Granderson A Fit?

The New York Mets talked with outfielder Curtis Granderson. The meeting reportedly took place in San Diego. Although the Mets would not confirm a meeting, it was reported by several media outlets.

Granderson turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Yankees, so that gives you an idea of where he’s coming from. He wants a pay-day. The Mets already signed free agent Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million contract, so if the Mets landed Granderson it would probably send Eric Young to the bench, re-opening the hole he filled last season.

GRANDERSON: On Mets' radar/

GRANDERSON: On Mets’ radar/

Granderson, 33 in March, would provide left-handed power, but is ranked behind Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz in the free-agent market, so getting him wouldn’t be as costly. Granderson reportedly wants four years, but the Mets could approach him with three plus an option. I don’t believe a flat three would get him to Flushing.

Because of injuries – a broken forearm in spring training and later a broken pinkie finger – Granderson is coming off a terrible season in which he played in just 61 games and hit .229 with seven homers and 15 RBI.

The Yankees wanted to bring back Granderson – hence the qualifying offer – but their pursuit of Beltran sings a different tune.

While Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said he didn’t want an injury reclamation project, Granderson’s injuries were freakish in nature – hit by a pitch – and he will likely look at the 84 combined homers in 2011 and 2012.

That’s a lot of production, but Anderson must consider the Yankee Stadium bandbox and realize Granderson won’t hit like that in Citi Field. Alderson would have to take that approach with any power hitter on the market. Ellsbury is the line-drive, speed outfielder who would be perfect, but the Mets won’t give him the six years or $100-million-plus package he’s seeking.

So, if you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, there’s the salary Granderson would want; his recent injury history and age; and the questionable nature of his numbers.

If you’re the glass-half-full kind, there’s the potential power he could provide; that he fills a need and despite his negatives is a step up.

There are players I’d rather the Mets get over Granderson, but they won’t pay that kind of money. Assuming $51 million over three years ($17 million a season), Granderson would be a relatively economical upgrade in the outfield.

He would fall under the category of being the best the Mets could get.

LATER TODAY:  What non-tendered players the Mets could bring back.

Dec 02

Mets Non-Tender Valdespin; A Good Move

What should have been done months ago finally occurred today when the New York Mets non-tendered the moody and limited-talented outfielder Jordany Valdespin, making him a free agent.

If some team is stupid enough to sign Valdespin and he becomes a star, then so be it because he never was going to do anything with the Mets.

VALDESPIN: Gone.

VALDESPIN: Gone.

Valdespin supposedly had a flair for the dramatic, but in reality he was simply a showboat with a volatile temperament.

Valdespin was suspended for a lack of hustle, but things boiled over for him when he posed after a meaningless homer in a blowout loss to the Pirates and then became aggravated when he was hit by a pitch the following day and complained saying his teammates didn’t have his back.

Manager Terry Collins didn’t seem too upset when Valdespin was plunked citing an old school mentality. Collins later lamely tried to justify Valdespin’s actions by his upbringing and background, and praised his emotional spark, which everybody could plainly see was a “look-at-me’’ scream.

Not soon after, Collins gave Valdespin a week tryout at second base, which he failed miserably and it was clear he had no future with the Mets.

On May 13, I wrote the Mets would be better off without Valdespin, and during spring training – noting his me-first attitude – I wrote how he was throwing away his career.

David Wright, as team captain, was the only Met to support Valdespin on the record after the beaning incident, but it was lukewarm at best. Several teammates off the record said Valdespin was generally hated in the clubhouse.

One of the last things a young, building team such as the Mets need is a divisive presence in their clubhouse, either on the major league or minor league level.

The topper came when he was suspended for 50 games in the Biogenesis scandal. Evidently, his performance wasn’t enhanced enough.

If I seem harsh on Valdespin, it is because I am. Valdespin was given a chance to play major league baseball because of his raw physical ability and he threw it away.

Nobody should feel sorry for him.

The Mets also non-tendered reliever Scott Atchison and shortstop Omar Quintanilla.